Almost every practical aspect of society—population, environment, economics, politics—is and will be increasingly impacted by our relationship with the earth. This program provides you with the flexibility to travel down the path in a specific area of the field that interests you the most. You will work with faculty to address fundamental questions about our world—from prehistoric geological processes to understanding weather patterns.

Students in the program have gone on field trips everywhere from Maine to Spain and research trips to Australia, Norway, Canada, and beyond. You will have the opportunity to use Harvard’s advanced instrumentation such as the Visualization Research and Teaching Laboratory with the Ultra High Resolution Science Observatory. Projects students have worked on include high temp geochemistry and cosmochemistry, climate dynamics, and geology, and earth history.

Graduates of the program have gone on to positions as a senior research scientist at NASA, geoscientist at ExxonMobil, and consultant at McKinsey & Company. Others have gone on to faculty positions at UC Berkeley, Columbia, and Princeton.

Additional information on the graduate program is available from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and requirements for the degree are detailed in GSAS Policies.

Admissions Requirements

Please review GSAS admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program-specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Academic Background

Typically, applicants will have an academic background in applied math, biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, engineering, physics, or related fields. Applicants should indicate the faculty whose research fields are closest to their interests in the Faculty section of the application for admission. For lists of faculty working in specific research areas, please browse the study and research areas of the department website.

Math Preparation

Applicants should have appropriate math preparation depending on their field of study. Students in geophysics, climate, ocean and atmospheric dynamics, and other math-intensive research areas are expected to have successfully completed applied math courses to the level of ordinary and partial differential equations. Students in less mathematically-oriented research areas are expected to have successfully completed basic college-level calculus and linear algebra at the level of Harvard’s applied mathematics or mathematics courses: Math 21A (Multivariable Calculus) and Math 21B (Linear Algebra and Differential Equations). If not, these should be taken in addition to the department's math requirement, and incoming students should be aware that this represents a significant additional commitment. Students are expected, in the course of graduate work, to complete the second and third year of college mathematics (intermediate and advanced calculus and differential equations). Students with a strong math and physics background doing theoretical work are expected to take higher-level graduate mathematics courses.

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Earth and Planetary Sciences

Earth and Planetary Sciences Faculty